Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (29) Villanova

Mar 03, 2012; Hartford, CT, USA; The Villanova Wildcats mascot performs during the second half of the second round of the 2012 Big East Tournament as they take on the Louisville Cardinals at the XL Center. Louisville Cardinals defeated the Villanova Wildcats 63-47. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2012 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 61 teams and their 2012 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Villanova Wildcats

2012 Record: 8-7 (4-2, Big East)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.02 (11)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.63 (16)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: -15.42%

2012 Efficiency Margin: 0.79 (29)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: -3.63

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Villanova, with its cockamamie pick-heavy offensive methodology, holds one of the most exciting and efficient offenses in the country. The true value from this basketball-based approach is how well the Wildcats moved the ball (and, maybe more importantly, how well they move without the ball). Kevin Cunningham, C.J. Small, and Will Casertano were the trio of triggers that generated Villanova's seventh-best share rate in the country. With such a varied attack, defenses were forced into identification issues, compelled to recognize and recover and hope for the best. Everyone had a hand in this thing and it was one of the most efficient offenses in the country (the team finished the season ranked 12th in adjusted offensive efficiency) despite playing a schedule ranked first nationally in defenses faced.

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • Villanova fell all over itself down the stretch this season and suicide, as opposed to common television title credit theme songs, isn't painless. A three-game losing streak to Notre Dame (10-7), Providence (15-11), and Syracuse (15-6) -- in the Big East Tournament on the Wildcats' home field -- eliminated any hope that Villanova had to move into the NCAA Tournament and fully establish itself as a continued national player. It was, in large part, the Wildcats' offense that let the team down in its final three games (the unit's efficiency never topped its aggregated season offensive efficiency in any contest) although the team's defense didn't exactly perform at a level that was significantly different than its overall shadiness throughout the 2012 campaign. Combined with an inability to generate a possession percentage at or above 50 in those final three contests, the Wildcats' swoon was among the worst in the country in the final weeks of play.

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • Villanova, more than anything, absolutely needs to find a functionable keeper to anchor its defense. Dan Gutierrez and his eye roll-inducing 46.8 save percentage is gone and Billy Hurley -- Villanova's former first-choice keeper pre-2012 -- is the likely starter in 2013 (but may see some competition from Pete Metcalf). Hurley hasn't been an exceptional ball stopper in his career, but he's going to need to come to the fore next season if the Wildcats hope to remedy any of the defensive efficiency issues that the team has faced over the last few seasons. With Chris Creighton and Ryan McDonagh graduated, leaving two holes at close defense to accompany Chris Conroy, Villanova's unstable goalie situation becomes even more of an issue with fall ball looming in the windshield.

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